Cover image for A history of American literary journalism : the emergence of a modern narrative form
A history of American literary journalism : the emergence of a modern narrative form
Hartsock, John C., 1951-
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Publication Information:
Amherst : University of Massachusetts, [2000]

Physical Description:
xiv, 294 pages ; 24 cm

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PS366.R44 H37 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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During the 1960s, such works as Truman Capote's In Cold Blood and Joan Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem were cited as examples of the "new journalism". True stories that read like novels, they combined the journalist's task of factual reporting with the art of fictional narration.

Yet as John C. Hartsock shows in this revealing study, the roots of this distinctive form of writing -- whether called new journalism, literary journalism, or creative nonfiction -- can be traced at least as far back as the late nineteenth century. In the decades following the American Civil War, Stephen Crane, Lafcadio Hearn, and other journalists challenged the notion, then just emerging, that the reporter's job was to offer a concise statement of the "objective truth". Drawing on the techniques of the realistic novel, these writers developed a new narrative style of reporting aimed at lessening the distance between observer and observed, subject and object.

By the 1890s, Hartsock argues, literary journalism had achieved critical recognition as a new form of writing, different not only from "objective" reporting but also from the sensationalistic "yellow press" and at times the socially engaged "muckrakers". In the twentieth century, the form has continued to evolve and maintain its vitality, despite being marginalized by the academic establishment.

A former journalist who covered Capitol Hill for UPI and reported on the collapse of the Soviet Union for the San Francisco Examiner, Hartsock brings a fresh and informed perspective to the issues he examines. The result is a concise introduction to the genesis and development of a significant literary genre.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

According to Hartsock (communication studies, SUNY at Cortland), scholars have not given enough attention to the genre of literary journalism, and the purpose of this book is to fill that gap. Refuting the popular belief that Truman Capote's In Cold Blood was the first example of literary nonfiction, Hartsock argues that this form of writing first appeared in the 19th century, when writers like Stephen Crane and Lafcadio Hearn began to change the way journalists reported the truth by bringing the reader and the subject closer together when writing about slavery, travel, crime, and biography. Hartsock quotes many examples and establishes an important argument that will be distinguished for its breadth and exacting scholarship. Since this book is aimed at scholars, graduate students, and other serious writers, it will prove most useful in academic libraries.DLisa J. Cihlar, Monroe P.L., WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Mercifully, the style in this book changes drastically after a bombastic introduction in which Hartsock (communication, SUNY, Cortland) "izes" to the point of annoyance (he contextualizes, historicizes, problematizes) and throws stylistic curve balls by overusing "foregrounds" and "privileges" as verbs. Though the "izing" continues it occurs with less frequency in the text, but it is occasionally joined with such phrases as "phenomenological fluidity" and "cryptotheological faith." And the author commits the cardinal sin of journalism: the misspelling of a name--a journalist's name at that--Pete Hammill [sic]. When he stays with viewing authors' works in historical context and in concrete and specific terms, Hartsock writes effectively. He supplies abundant support for the narratives he classifies as literary journalism, and he includes an excellent bibliography. However, the reader will not find here a solid definition of "literary journalism," which perhaps underscores Ben Yagod a's point that it is "a profoundly fuzzy term." In the preface of this history, the author asks the reader to excuse his "obtuse critical language." Unfortunately, many readers will be unable to do that. For research collections only. S. W. Whyte Montgomery County Community College

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Introductionp. 1
1 Locating the Emergence of Modern Narrative Literary Journalismp. 21
2 Narrative Literary Journalism's Resistance to Objectified Newsp. 41
3 What Preceded: The Origins of Modern American Literary Journalismp. 80
4 Narrative Literary Journalism, Sensational Journalism, and Muckrakingp. 134
5 What Followed: Narrative Literary Journalism from 1910 to the "New" Journalismp. 152
6 The Critical Marginalization of American Literary Journalismp. 204
Codap. 246
Appendix. Scholarship of Literary Journalism/Nonfictionp. 251
Bibliographyp. 261
Indexp. 283